‘Restraint on marriage’ trust dispute granted transfer by justices

Indiana Supreme Court justices have granted transfer in a case involving a sibling dispute over their late mother’s trust.

Transfer was granted in the case of Roger D. Rotert v. Connie S. Stiles, 20A-TR-773 after the high court heard oral arguments in June.

Siblings Roger Rotert and Connie Stiles went to court over the terms of their mother’s trust, which held that in the event Rotert was married at the time his mother died, his share of her property would be given to Stiles via a second trust.

Rotert was married when his mother died and the Jackson Circuit Court denied his motion for summary judgment claiming those terms were void as a restraint against marriage.

The Indiana Court of Appeals split in reversing judgment for Stiles, concluding that because the marriage provision never had any legal existence, the provision could not be saved by an agreement or waiver of the parties.

But Judge Melissa May, writing in dissent, said she would not find the trust language at issue to be void as a restraint on marriage or as an incentive to divorce.

Stiles then petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction over the appeal, which it granted in a unanimous Friday order signed by Chief Justice Loretta Rush.

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